September 29th, 2005 § Comments off § permalink

Henceforth, I intend to refer to all oddly-named items used for religious purposes—tefillin, chasubles, and the like—as “churchamacallits.”

Turning pro

September 23rd, 2005 § Comments off § permalink

The past week has been incredibly hectic, but because of something positive—I’m starting a job next week! I’ve been hired by a consulting firm in Berkeley that does city planning work for various Bay Area cities. My job will focus on urban design, which is a tough field to summarize, but I’ll try: Urban designers focus on making cities attractive and functional for the people who use them. At a small scale, that could mean adding trees and benches to a street or requiring the first floors of buildings to have windows instead of blank walls. At a large scale, that could mean using height regulations to sculpt a city’s skyline or organizing new development around major transportation corridors. Sorry if that sounds nebulous; I’m still working on my elevator story for urban design.

Anyhow, I’ve taken advantage of my last week of unemployment to run as many errands as humanly possible, including the acquisition of what amounts to an entirely new wardrobe (and yes, a great deal of it is black; surprise, surprise). But I’ve had fun as well. On Wednesday, my friend Paula and I went to the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco to see Sean Hayes and Jolie Holland, both of whom were excellent. Last night, a bunch of friends and I went to the Latin American Club to celebrate my new job. And today, my friend Thomas and I took a walking tour of hidden public spaces in downtown San Francisco, about which I’ll post more later.

Now I’m going to spend a few minutes adjusting to the idea that I’m going to be in an actual office all day on Monday. I’ll hold off for now on thinking about Tuesday through Friday, since I don’t want to shock my system.

Good luck improving on “Fjällviva”

September 15th, 2005 § Comments off § permalink

I went to Ikea this morning and purchased new bedding and a potato masher. Help me think of a humorous and/or erotic story that explains this combination. (Extra credit: Invent funny Ikea names for the products I purchased.)

Mixed messages

September 9th, 2005 § Comments off § permalink

A public service announcement about childhood obesity is posted above a McDonald's billboard.

Taken near my house in scenic Oakland, CA.

Deliberately created suffering

September 9th, 2005 § Comments off § permalink

Okay, one more on New Orleans, and then I’ll try to stop: Here’s a hideous account of how local police deliberately sabotaged many survivors’ efforts to leave the city on foot and provide food, water, and shelter for one another.

The Fox News clip that’s linked from that article is one of the most astonishing pieces of television I’ve ever seen. When even Fox is railing against the government like this, you know things are grim.

Learning to love fruits and veggies

September 9th, 2005 § Comments off § permalink

Today’s most promising culinary trend isn’t raw food, small plates, or sous vide. It’s the growing number of school lunch programs that feature healthy but delicious meals, locally-grown produce, and, on occasion, schoolyard gardens. The New York Times has an article today about a particularly deluxe version at a private charter school in Harlem:

Ebony Richards, a confirmed hamburger and Tater Tots girl, knows the rules of the lunch line at her school, the Promise Academy in Harlem.

When confronted with whole-wheat penne covered with sautéed peppers and local squash, she does not blurt out “That’s nasty.” If she does, she goes to the end of the line.

Although seconds on main courses are not allowed—someone has to show children what a reasonable portion is—Ebony can fill her tray with a dozen helpings of vegetables or bowls of Romaine lettuce from the salad bar. Any time in the school day, she can wander into the cafeteria for a New York apple.

Free, locally-grown apples all day long! Brilliant. Every school should be doing that. And although this school’s lunch program is more expensive than most, other groups, including Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard, are working to put similar programs in public schools.

In England, there was recently a documentary series in which Jamie Oliver overhauled a British school’s terrible lunches. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be released in the US anytime soon.


September 8th, 2005 § Comments off § permalink

For reasons known only to himself, Michael Brown, the pathetic, incompetent excuse for a FEMA director who’s supposed to be running the Hurricane Katrina response effort, is still not allowing rescue personnel to enter New Orleans:

[Brown]—who is under fire for the agency’s slow response to the flooding—said Wednesday that scores of police and volunteer firefighters from around the nation, as well as trucks loaded with donated water, were even now being prevented from entering New Orleans while troops conduct house-to-house searches.

“They can’t just yet,” Brown said during a briefing in Baton Rouge. “There is going to come this natural time when we will release this floodgate of cops and firefighters who want to help. It’s the same for anyone who wants to volunteer—we have over 50,000 offers of donations from the private sector. It has to be coordinated in such a way that it helps.”

Does that make any fucking sense to anyone? The city is filled with corpses, people are still in need of supplies and medical help, and Michael Brown is keeping the relief out of the city?

Meanwhile, Congress is merrily allocating tens of billions of dollars to FEMA for reconstruction, even though FEMA’s proven itself to be unqualified beyond all comprehension (and even though reconstruction is not FEMA’s job).

Also, keep in mind that I’m only posting about the absolute worst aspects of the relief effort. If you want a fuller picture of how America has failed its neediest citizens, read Making Light (my source for the first link), Talking Points Memo (my source for the second), and This Modern World.

UPDATE: It gets even better. Not only is FEMA keeping rescuers out of New Orleans, it’s apparently paying a private security firm to patrol the city instead.

After the storm

September 4th, 2005 § Comments off § permalink

Hurricane Katrina would have devastated Louisiana and Mississippi even if the federal government had been prepared to clean up the damage. But it clearly wasn’t. Now, as a major American city lies beneath 20 feet of water, filled with the rotting corpses of thousands of its residents, with tens of thousands more just now getting supplies and escaping their wretched surroundings, our nation’s government is responding with its usual furious spin. As Josh Marshall notes:

…[T]his whole conversation we’re having now is not about substance, but procedural niceties, excuses which is it is beyond shameful for an American president to invoke in such a circumstance. We don’t live in the 19th century. All you really needed was a subscription to basic cable to know almost all of the relevant details (at least relevant to know what sort of assistance was needed) about what was happening late last week. The president and his advisors want to duck responsibility by claiming, in so many words, that the Louisiana authorities didn’t fill out the right forms. So what they’re trying to pull is something like a DMV nightmare on steroids.

Look at New Orleans today. The severity of the flooding and the plight of its residents are the result of administration policies that diverted money and troops to Iraq and away from a city that has long been a disaster waiting to happen. (Note that the last article was published in October 2001.)

This is what happens when you put government in the hands of people who hate government.

Where am I?

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